Knowledge Management vs an Information Management System

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There is a belief out there in industry and in the Department of Defense that if I have SharePoint or some other system (KMS or Information Management System) that they are doing Knowledge Management. Or the person that is doing their portal site is the Knowledge Manager for their organization. That may or may not be the case depending on the individual. The tool does not manage the Organizations Knowledge nor should it. The tool manages information within the organization so that the individual who is reading or analyzing the information can use their knowledge to make decisions based on the information provided.

Some businesses out there will try to sell you a KMS (Knowledge Management System) which in reality is either a document repository, a lessons learned repository, a collaboration space, or records management system. I am not saying that these are bad things to have for any organization. Even with infusion of an AI system or chatbot with these systems your are not truly preforming Knowledge Management for the organization. This is information management the 1’s and 0’s are stored and that is only 1/3 of the entire organizational knowledge. 2/3s of any organizational knowledge reside within the minds of the people who work there.

Knowledge Management has four main pillars:

  • People
  • Process
  • Organizational Culture
  • Tools (Digital and Non-Digital)

Each of these pillars are important to any organization and the ROI is actually higher when one focuses on the first three pillars rather than socking funds into a Information Management System.

People

People are the most important part of any organization. Without it why does the organization exist in the first place. Ensuring that you have the right people working for you in the organization that understand the mission and vision and can preform at the position assigned is key to a successful organization. Being able to keep good people who are excited to work will bend over backwards for the organization. That includes giving them opportunities to grow personally and professionally.

Process

An organizations processes can make change management and innovation management difficult to do if every time a change or innovation needs to take place the “red tape” makes it too difficult for change to take place. Reviewing processes, policies, and procedures can improve how the organization is run and the ability for your employees to actually do the work they were hired to accomplish. These processes can also help assist in developing courses of action for the decision-makers to make sound and timely decisions based on the current environment. It can also create white-space in the staff and decision-makers calendars to be able to focus on developing accurate analysis of data and information coming into the organization.

Organizational Culture

Culture is one of the hardest things to change within any organization that is past the Start-up phase of development. When a company is first developing through the seed and start-up phases everything seems to be fast and flowing smoothly then when the organization gets establish that is where culture starts to set in. The need to get out of habits of “we have always done it this way” or “we cannot do that because…” the organization is a living breathing thing that has a vision and mission. Organizations need to embrace change and learning ways to improve their product or services. If you do not some other company who has embraced this mindset will over take your foothold and even poach your employees.

Tools (Digital and Non-Digital)

So tools, you noticed that I placed digital and non-digital tools here. Tools should be only 5-10% of the organizational focus when it comes to Knowledge Management. But I know that most people in any organization see the tool as the football and everyone is running to it. Because that is what everyone can see and interact with on a daily basis. Knowledge Management ≠ Portal or SharePoint. Tools can be a map board, a butcherblock paper on the corner of the conference room, it can be the whiteboard hanging on the wall. It can even be PostIt notes to remind you of that 14:00 appointment with the doctor.

Do not get me wrong, tools are important to store documents, input data, maintain records, and visualize the Key Preforming Indicators for the organization. All of those things are important but they are not the end all be all for your Knowledge Management program.

Interview with Aurélien Vasinis with Brainsfeed

I had a great time talking Knowledge Management with Aurélien Vasinis, CEO of Brainsfeed. To hear some perspective on pay walls, the academic side of Knowledge Management, and Knowledge Management within the U. S. Department of Defense grab yourself a cup of coffee and click the link below. I will embed the video on this post soon.

Knowledge Management with your family

Over this Covid-19 pandemic, I have been looking forward to being able to make those business to business networking connections again and gain more clients. One of the most important thing I have learned from this experience is how Knowledge Management can be done with your family.

The four pillars of Knowledge Management are People, Process, Organizational Culture and Tools. Applying these to your everyday day life can help with a multitude of things from the kids school and activities schedules, bills, doctors appointments, work schedules (yes even when WFH).

The people part of this equation is easy (your family) and each person has a role they play in the family unit. This includes doing the dishes to feeding the animals. Establishing what each person does helps manages what needs to be completed.

Process like it or not is just as important in the business arena as in the home. Processes on how bills are paid, what the approval process is for the kids to be able to get time on their Xbox or electronic devices. Establishing a clear process for your family on how things gets accomplished can help get things done more effectively.

Organizational culture, the family unit is a culture on its own. You have the parental unit(s) as well as the kid(s) and there is a definite cultural dynamic that comes into play on how situations are dealt with on a daily basis.

Tools so how do you keep your family organized, connected and be able to still be able to live. In my home, we utilize Microsoft Office products to include SharePoint and Outlook to keep our documents, bills and other important information where we can collaborate on any decisions that need to be made or have access to our information while we are out in the community. Another tool we use a lot of is whiteboards. I have a Kanban board to monitor my business and we have boards all thought out the house for kids chores, tracking medication, important events and bills. We also take handwritten notes exclusively on Rocketbook notebooks. In terms of our digital meetings we rely on Fireflies to capture audio notes which it does have the capability to transcribe the notes in order to search for information after the fact.

Looking back from the beginning of this pandemic until now, my family and I have gotten closer as well as become better stewards of our Knowledge that each of us has. We are also communicating better as a family.

If you our your company would like to know how Knowledge Management can help improve your business and your bottom dollar. Please feel free to contact me via email at cannonco@cannonco.net or by phone at 620-719-6004.

How to use Knowledge Management to control a pandemic

Since March, I have been asked how can Knowledge Management help me (or my company) to control this or any pandemic. The answer I give them is to treat this pandemic like any other operation your company was in prior to the pandemic but your environment now has some more barriers to overcome before your clients can get to purchase your goods or services.

Part of this is to be aware of the environment we are all facing. Be aware of the trends and where the outbreaks are occurring. A good source of information is the John’s Hopkins University COVID-19 Tracker

Another source of information is the Center for Disease Control where they give advice on how to protect yourself and others from this disease. Also your state and local governments have policies in place to help prevent the spread.

So what are other ways Knowledge Management can help contribute to the larger fight against this particular problem. The work from home or remote work policies for companies need to be reviewed and updated to make sure both quality of service as well as the internal information the employees share can be accessed wherever they are located. Even after this pandemic has run its course, companies should practice how to operate outside of the office spaces. This is something the corporate world can learn from the military.

Having operated in Iraq, Kuwait, Korea, Malaysia, Japan and other areas in the world I can honestly say that the most meaningful take aways were those times we operated outside of the normal headquarters and worked in either a combined environment with the host nation or joint environment with the other services. We all learned from each other and this was also done in remote areas away from the cubicles.

Knowledge Management Community of Austin (KMCA)

Austin

Back at the first of the year, I had a meeting with Benjamin Anyacho, a Knowledge Manager from the Texas Department of Transportation, at a local restaurant in Austin. I mentioned to him that we need to pool our collective resources and start having a conversation with other Knowledge Managers within the Austin and Central Texas area.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition of many of us to work from home, we have been delaying the start of this KM Community. After talking with each other for the past few weeks we decided that it is actually a good time to start up and have conversations and possibly share ways we as a community can get to a place of the new normal.

On June 25th at 11:30 AM until 12:30 PM Central Time (in the US and Canada) will start the Knowledge Management Community of Austin (KMCA) Knowledge Cafe. We want to brainstorm with other Knowledge Managers within the Austin and Central Texas community towards a possible knowledge exchange. Knowledge management practice is increasingly becoming a sine qua non for business success. Several smart cities and regions are organizing themselves around KM practice and community.

Please register in advance for this meeting:
Zoom registration: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUudOCqqjIoGdEdvRJGVonwU84W5DzAQVu1 After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Information on Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/knowledge-management-community-of-austin-area-tickets-106014347768?ref=esli&utm_campaign=201308&utm_source=LinkedInenivtefor001

Benjamin also created a LinkedIn group for this new community of professionals and is located at the following web site: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12436066.